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Roberta Flack

Roberta Flack was born in Black Mountain, North Carolina, started school at age four, moved into Arlington the next year and lived in a two-bedroom basement situation with her mother, father, grandmother, an aunt, an uncle, two sisters and a brother.

Perhaps just to get out of the house, they went to church, where her mother was an organist.

There was also R&B singing in the church basement which led Roberta to form a girls’ trio in high school.


Roberta skipped grades all through school and by 19 she was out of college and teaching in Farmville, North Carolina – music, maths and English literature.

By 1968 she had moved to Washington where she taught ninth-graders in the inner city and also moonlighted as a piano accompanist at an opera restaurant.

She was spotted playing by jazzman Les McCann, who was moved by her voice and got her signed to Atlantic.

Killing Me Softly was originally recorded by American singer Lori Lieberman for the Capitol label.

She allegedly wrote the song after seeing Don McLean perform American Pie in 1971.

The story goes that Roberta Flack was on a flight from Los Angeles to New York when she heard the song on one of the channels of the in-flight entertainment system.

As soon as she arrived in New York she set up in the studio and recorded her chart-topping version of the song.